Civic leaders are pleased with the economic boost that the £46m development of the former Bowyers factory will bring to Trowbridge.
Developer Prorsus intends to build an eight-screen Cineworld, a Morrisons store, six restaurants and a pub at the site after the Planning Inspectorate today decided to overturn Wiltshire Council’s initial decision to reject the scheme in June 2012.
The developer is currently seeking contractors and demolition is expected to start on the existing building in the coming weeks with the whole scheme expected to create around 400 jobs. No completion date for the project has been set as this point.
Colin Kay, Trowbridge Chamber of Commerce president, said: “This is great news for the town and will create jobs as well as attract more people Trowbridge. I think development of that site will act as a real gateway for the town between the train station and the centre.”
When Wiltshire Council rejected plans for the Bowyers scheme, in 2012, around 400 supporters of the Bowyers regeneration marched through Trowbridge, from the site to County Hall, in protest aginst the decision.
A Facebook group in support for Prorsus’ plans was also set up and members of the public also stood up and gave their backing to the proposals during a three-day planning appeal which took place at Trowbridge Civic Centre earlier this month, overseen by planning inspector David Nicholson.
Campaigner Rebecca Millard, a Trowbridge resident, said: “This is absolutely amazing news, I’m over the moon and I think it is brilliant that the planning inspector understood how strong the public support was.
“This is what the county town of Wiltshire deserves and I think everyone should watch this space as Trowbridge is on the up.”
Wiltshire and Trowbridge Town Councillor John Knight said that he was delighted that the public support had been acknoledged.
He said: "I think Prorsus' legal team were brilliant but the members of the public who came down to every meeting deserve a pat on the back as they must have had an influence on the inspector.
"I think this is a great victory for people power."
Wiltshire and Trowbridge Town Councillor Graham Payne wants to see work start on the Bowyers site as soon as possible.
He said: “We are badly in need of more jobs in Trowbridge and getting 400 new ones will be such a welcome boost. I think the swiftness of the inspector's decision shows the weakness of the council’s position.”
During the planning appeal, Wiltshire Council and Legal & General, which opened the £17m St Stephens Place Leisure Park in November, made submissions against Prorsus’ plans.
Both believe that the Bowyers development will have a detrimental effect on the seven-screen Odeon cinema, which opened in October at St Stephens Place, potentially forcing it to close.
In February 2013, Prorsus saw plans for a ‘reserve’ application – which substituted the cinema for an unspecified leisure facility and added a petrol station – accepted by Wiltshire Council. But the developer decided to pursue its initial plans.